Efforts to ban smoking in New Jersey casinos have been ongoing. Proponents feel that a ban needs to happen now to protect employees and patrons from health issues. Casinos are against the idea due to fear that they will lose revenues. A recent Senate hearing took place late last week to discuss the matter, with anti-smoking advocates expecting a vote. That did not happen, and now those against smoking are up in arms as legislators continue to skirt the issue.
New Jersey Officials Avoid Vote on Smoking Ban
- It was expected that the smoking ban would pass into law.
- Chairman Joseph Vitale said there was insufficient support to vote on the measure.
- The measure will be up for discussion again in December.
No Vote on Smoking Ban Bill
The recent hearing on S264 took place for over 90 minutes within the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. The members were expected to vote and pass the bill, though a vote did not occur.
A total of 83 lawmakers in the state, out of 120, are a sponsor or co-sponsor of the measure in the Senate and Assembly. There is plenty of backing to help NJ casino players avoid smoke while gambling. Chairman Joseph Vitale said that a vote would not take place despite the support.
The Chairman stated there was not enough support among the members at the meeting to vote on the measure. The bill will reportedly be heard this month.
Casinos Want to Find a Compromise
After the vote did not occur, the Casino Association of New Jersey released a statement. The group represents the casinos in Atlantic City. Members stated they wanted to find a compromise that covered the employees' concerns without jeopardizing employment or benefits to vulnerable citizens.
President of the Casino Association of New Jersey and CEO/president of Resorts Casino, Mark Giannantonio, stated that people are beginning to realize that the bill as it stands now would hurt the economy of Atlantic City.
Giannantonio stated that many stakeholders oppose the bill, including employees, seniors, labor groups, businesses, community leaders, etc. Casinos believe that jobs would be at risk due to revenue losses, and support would decrease for programs decided for seniors and people with disabilities if smoking is banned completely.
Anti-smoking groups are Fired Up
Anti-smoking groups are not happy with the outcome of the session, as there are only so many days left for lawmakers to come to a decision. The current legislative session will end in January. There are few days left on the schedule for lawmakers to meet and discuss bills like the smoking measure.
Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Harmful Effects (C.E.A.S.E) support the measure, along with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, and the United Auto Workers.
Members of C.E.A.S.E. were on hand to deliver testimony during the meeting, stating to lawmakers that smoking in casinos forces employees to choose between a paycheck and their health. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights also made a statement on the matter via president and CEO Cynthia Hallet.
Ms. Hallet stated that casinos and lobbyists have waited until the last minute to begin the discussion, and legislators clearly need more time to discuss the repercussions of dangerous amendments they are adding at the 11th hour that would hurt casino employees.
Hallet further stated that ANR is confident that legislators will vote to finally close the loophole that allows smoking in casinos and protects employee health. She said the scare tactics that casinos used in the past are tired and no longer apply in a post-COVID world. There should be no compromise when it comes to employee health.
Casino employees were also on hand during the meeting, stating that even though casinos are only allowed a 25% section for smoking, that is not enforced. Those in attendance would like to see legislators take the smoking issue seriously and make changes.
Casinos continue to argue that a smoking ban would cause them to lose business. Anti-smoking advocates point out that during COVID-19, casinos were able to function just fine without smoking, as the activity was banned for several months.
For now, we will wait and see how legislators will vote this month if a vote takes place during the next judicial hearing.
Having started in 2005 as an online writer, Sadonna has focused on the online gambling industry, with a keen knowledge of various subjects. Sadonna has followed the growing US-based gambling industry for decades, covering all the legal changes in the nation as well as information on land-based and online casinos. She enjoys updating fellow gamblers on new games, casino bonuses, and additional information for premium gaming services. In her spare time, Sadonna loves spending time with her family and singing on Smule. Sadonna hopes to continue working in the online gambling industry and building quality articles for players to learn more about the US market.